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 Posted: Wed Feb 15th, 2006 04:05 pm
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calcav
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Joined: Sat Jan 28th, 2006
Location: Corinth, MS
Posts: 160
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I’m sorry I took so long to reply to Javal’s invitation to respond to this thread, I accompanied my wife to Atlanta for a business meeting and spent several days climbing on Kennesaw Mountain.

 

We are already experiencing budget problems at Shiloh without even considering the new proposal. Our new visitor center in Corinth opened 18 months ago and congress has yet to approve our base funding. Shiloh is absorbing the costs of running the new site (maintenance, utilities, salary for four employees, etc.) with no increase in available funds. Our current staffing at Shiloh is the lowest it has been in 17 years and we still maintain services while taking on the challenge of running a second site. Normally we hire eight to ten seasonal employees to assist in park operations between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We will be fortunate to see three or four this year.

 

I’d like to elaborate on the services provided not only here at Shiloh/Corinth but at other parks as well. First the seasonal employees: We usually have three seasonals assigned to maintenance employed as weed eaters. The weed eater crew follows behind our three tractor operators mowing historic fields and tour right of way. It takes the tractor operators ten days to make the full circuit of all fields, roads, trails, burial trenches, the river landing and the National Cemetery, weather permitting (we tried cutting back on the mowing as a cost saver and were deluged with complaints).The weed eaters follow behind trimming around trees, buildings, rail fences, walls, traffic signs, cannons (215), troop position markers (520) and monuments (158). These two crews are also responsible for storm clean up (more often than you might think), trail maintenance (15 miles), hazardous tree removal and trimming. The other maintenance personnel are responsible for carpentry, plumbing, masonry, HVAC, road repairs, sign repairs, landscaping, building upkeep (27, all but 4 are historic), painting, custodial, vehicle servicing and repair, environmental compliance, and the list goes on. Needless to say, they are never caught up.

 

Some of the services we Rangers at Shiloh perform; Scheduled interpretive talks, research, law enforcement, emergency medical, historic and environmental compliance, military staff rides (intensive training for junior officers and senior NCOs), fee collection, black powder safety inspections, wildlife monitoring, firefighting (not just at our park but throughout the country as needed), historic preservation, archival and library duties, serving as guest speakers, school group tours, Smithsonian and riverboat tours, special events (Memorial Day, Anniversary weekend, living history, etc.), archeology (civil war and pre-Columbian), as well as writing the endless programs, studies and reports that come with a government agency (we have a three person administrative staff to assist with that). Oh yes, and we man the information desk. Our seasonal rangers assist in that and some of the educational programs as well. One thing we don’t do is sell books, Eastern National bookstores has that park concession, though we are frequently called on to make recommendations, and help out if they get too swamped.

 

I have friends throughout the park system that perform a myriad of duties.  One friend runs a snow plow on the Going-To-The-Sun Road at Glacier, one of the single most dangerous jobs in the country; another cleans Abe Lincoln’s face on Mount Rushmore. I know a guy that does back-country patrols at Great Smokey Mountains and another that hunts down their feral pigs. Friends at Yosemite are involved in technical climbing/rescue, trail maintenance that requires explosives and tree maintenance 200 feet up a giant sequoia. I myself assist in historic preservation projects throughout the system and have worked on slave cabins in Natchez, a covered bridge in Yosemite, gun emplacements at Fort Pickens, stone work at Harper’s Ferry, flooring in the Wright Brothers bicycle shop and the rebuilding of the Manse-George “war cabin” right here at Shiloh. I could continue this list for pages but you get the idea.

 

We have made cuts and if necessary will make some more. At Shiloh we have already worked out our schedules for the busy season. We might be a little tired now and then as each of us takes on more duties, but we will adapt. It reminds me of a saying from my military days (20 years Navy!) where we saw our share of budget cuts, “We have done so much for so long with so little we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”

 

Most of the cuts will probably be absorbed in ways that won’t be visible to the public. But the one thing you will always see will be that Ranger, in the gray and green with the distinctive flat hat.

 

 

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